Aleksandar Mitrovic edging closer to comeback at Newcastle '“ as transfer deadline approaches

Aleksandar Mitrovic is back in training at Newcastle United '“ but he won't be involved at the Eithad Stadium.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 6:00 am
Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The striker has been sidelined for more than a month with a back problem.

But Mitrovic – who is ready to quit the club this month to so he can play regular football – was left out of Benitez’s squad for this evening’s game against Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“(Florian) Lejeune and (Jesus) Gamez injured, the rest are available and training,” said United manager Rafa Benitez, whose side were beaten 1-0 at St James’s Park late last month.

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Benitez’s defensive tactics were criticised by TV pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher. Asked if the criticism troubled him, he said: “No.”

Benitez refused to talk about his tactics for the return fixture. Asked if he would play the same way again, he said: “We’ll have to think about that.

“The team has to do what it has to do to get points.

“It’s not a cup competition when you can score an away goal and lose 2-1 – we have to try to draw or win. And we’ll have to defend well, because we’re playing against the best team in the league.”

Benitez says he’s more concerned with City’s players than Pep Guardiola, their manager.

“We don’t play against managers – we play against teams,” said Benitez. “So I’m more worried about (Sergio) Aguero and their strikers than Pep.”